Wisconsin next stop in Ellenwood’s travels
Track and field has taken Georgia Ellenwood many places.
She has been overseas to France and Spain with Team Canada, as well as all to parts of Canada and the U.S. for various other meets.
But for the next four years, the sport will take her primarily to Madison, Wisc. where she will attend the University of Wisconsin.
Ellenwood, a senior at Langley Secondary School, signed her national letter of intent last Wednesday morning (Feb. 6) to attend the NCAA Division 1 Big 10 school. She had verbally committed to the Badgers back in December.
“It was my first recruiting visit and they just had everything I wanted,” she explained about the decision.
Other schools interested in signing Ellenwood — the top-ranked junior heptathlete in Canada — included the University of Oregon, Indiana University, University of Hawaii and the University of Nebraska.
“It was a difficult decision because they all had so much to offer and the atmosphere on each campus was incredible,” Ellenwood described.
“I felt that the energy and spirit on campus matched my personality.”
And while visiting the Wisconsin campus helped with the decision, what really helped turn things in the Badgers’ favour was a visit to Langley by Nate Davis, the team’s throwing coach.
“And the coach was one of the main reasons why I went there; he is an amazing coach,” Ellenwood said.
Davis visited Ellenwood even before her trip to Madison, and she said he was the only coach to do so.
“He didn’t have to do that and all the other coaches didn’t do that,” she said.
“And he was the only one who did that and that was kind of a sign.”
Ellenwood was also impressed during her visit with her future teammates. In 2012, Wisconsin swept the podium at the Big 10 championships for heptathlon, as well as placing all three in the top 20 at the NCAA championships.
For their part, the Badgers are thrilled to land Ellenwood.
“We are super excited to get her,” said Davis. “She is a fantastic athlete.
“Anytime you can get someone who has the resume she does — internationally and what she has done as a high school athlete — it is huge for your program.”
“It shows by the schools she was considering,” he added.
“We were fortunate to add her.”
Davis said making home visits is part of his recruiting routine.
“I put a lot of weight into getting to know athletes and their families,” he explained.
“I think the difference between great high school and junior success and taking it to the next level at the NCAA or international level, really has a lot to do with getting to know people and relationships, and things like that.”
In 2012, Ellenwood won her third consecutive B.C. high school girls’ heptathlon title. She became just the third three-time winner of the event and will go for the four-peat this spring.
The heptathlon is made up of seven events: the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin throw, and 800m. The events are split up over two days.
Ellenwood, who trains with the Langley Mustangs Track and Field Club, left for Arizona last week for a Canadian Olympic Development camp.
“So far, the camp has been intimidating and inspiring at the same time,” she said.
“Seeing all these Olympic athletes kind of frightens me but also motivates me to become one of them.”
Ellenwood was scheduled to return today (Thursday) after completing two-a-day training sessions.
“My goal is to show that I deserve to be on the Olympic team in the future,” she said.
Having represented Canada at the youth and junior levels the past couple of summers, Ellenwood has identified the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as her long-term target.
Short-term, she is aiming to qualify to represent Canada’s junior national team and compete at the junior Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru in August.
And Wisconsin will be her training grounds while she studies, although she will return home in the summers to compete for Canada and B.C. in international and national competitions, respectively.
“Wisconsin was pretty much everything I need and what I think will get me to the Olympics in the long run,” she said.
“They had all the best athletes, the best coaches, the best facilities. It all fit together.”
She is also happy to have her schooling decision out of the way so she can focus on her last five months of high school.
“When I was trying to decide, it was so stressful because they were all amazing schools and I had to pick one,” Ellenwood said.
“That was super stressful; I was on the phone with coaches almost every day (so) it is good to just settle down.”
She also thanked her coaches with the Mustangs the past seven years, Dwayne Lotnick and Kim Chapdelaine.
“Georgia is a phenomenal talent,” said Brent Dolfo, the Mustangs’ president.
“Her dominant performances as a high school athlete rank right up there with former Mustangs Debbie Brill and Leah Pells, who both competed for Canada in multiple Olympic Games.”